Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves

Laurel Braitman. Simon & Schuster, $28 (400p) ISBN 978-1-4516-2700-8
In this illuminating contribution to the burgeoning field of animal studies, senior TED fellow Braitman suggests that the key to understanding mental illness might lie in our pets. Humans, she reveals, are not the only ones who experience emotional turbulence or mental problems that break daily routine. Bears can endure heartbreak, elephants can form intense social attachments, and gorillas can die from homesickness. Few species escape her discussion. Braitman’s delightful balance of humor and poignancy brings each case to life as she draws on her own experience, research, and the theories of Darwin, Descartes, and others. We have always described animal behavior using human terminology, and analyzing these accounts in historical context leads to revelations about the human species and larger issues of language and communication. Yet emotion is in part contingent upon the ability to express it, so the varied capacities for self-awareness and language within the animal world are perhaps the only possible loopholes to Braitman’s logic. But analytical scrutiny would not be the way to approach this book, whose continuous dose of hope should prove medicinal for humans and animals alike. Agent: Barney M. Karpfinger, Karpfinger Agency. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/03/2014
Release date: 06/10/2014
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-1-922247-79-7
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4423-7135-4
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4516-2702-2
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-1-925106-22-0
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-1-4516-2701-5
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